After the Boston College men’s basketball team returned home from a 14-point loss Thursday night at North Carolina State, coach Steve Donahue stressed how important the next 36 hours would be.
If the Eagles intended to rebound, it was important to put forth a supreme effort in everything they did.
It didn’t matter if it was in practice, study hall, or even the dining hall, there would be no substitute for excellence.
“I felt the guys were really locked in,’’ Donahue said. “We had a good practice [Friday] and I thought we had our best warm-up. It was very simplistic in terms of what we were going to do. We were going to be the team with energy and enthusiasm. That being said, that still takes talent and experience to go through and understand it.’’
Donahue’s inexperienced team struggled to find that edge in yesterday’s 71-56 loss to Wake Forest before a Conte Forum crowd of 4,986.
BC shot 31 percent (19 for 61), and got outrebounded, 42-37.
Freshman Ryan Anderson (13 points, 11 rebounds) sparked the Eagles (7-12, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) on a 9-4 run at the outset of the second half with a foul-inducing layup that cut the deficit to 34-29.
“I just think we made a conscious effort to execute offensively,’’ Anderson said. “We came out with a lot more energy in the second half than we did in the first half.’’
Although the Eagles never led, they appeared to pull within 2 when Lonnie Jackson (10 points) hit an apparent 3-pointer with 15:24 to go. The officials, however, reviewed the play and ruled that Jackson’s shot was a 2-pointer, which made it 38-35.
“I’m not going to get all bent out of shape about 1 point,’’ Donahue said. “But that was the game right there, that was our opportunity because we did not play well after that. Once again, I thought Wake had a calmness about them that they have not necessarily had this year at times, and a toughness about them.’’
Travis McKie, a 6-foot-7-inch sophomore forward, embodied those attributes with a game-high 20 points on 9-for-18 shooting to go with 10 rebounds as the Demon Deacons (11-8, 2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak. Junior guard C.J. Harris chipped in 15 points, and 7-foot senior center Ty Walker gave the Demon Deacons a presence in the paint with 6 points, 11 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots.
“We came out and made a run at them in the second half and I thought they kept their poise,’’ Donahue said. “I thought they ran through their offense and they consistently got better looks at the basket than we did.’’
After Anderson hit a pair of foul shots to pull BC within 40-37, McKie scored 7 points in a 10-3 run - which he sparked with a strong jump hook and capped with a 3-pointer - that gave the Demon Deacons a 52-40 lead with 8:50 to go.
Despite going nearly four minutes between 3-pointers by Matt Humphrey (7 points) and Jordan Daniels (12 points), the Eagles came back and four times pulled within 9 - the last time at 59-50 with 3:57 remaining. But McKie capped a 10-2 run with a putback that gave Wake Forest a commanding lead at 69-52.
“Right now, we have a snowball effect - in both directions,’’ Donahue said. “When things go bad, we have a tendency to let them get to us and compound it on both sides of the ball. When we do positive things, it ends up snowballing in that direction.
“But we’ve got to continue to try to stress the 40-minute, the 35-second mental toughness that you need to persevere through hard times. Whether it’s a 35-second possession or a four-minute [scoreless] stretch in a game, these guys have got to learn how to do that.’’Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.